Earlier this year I was awarded the Grano Fellowship to travel to Washington D.C. and see economic and agricultural policy in action. This award provided funds to travel to Washington D.C., but more importantly, it provided the contacts I needed to see how training in agricultural and resource economics can be used in agricultural policy-making in Washington D.C. and beyond.
I spent a full week in Washington during the month of June with my calendar booked with appointments from the morning till evening. I was able to spend all of that time meeting with senior USDA economists and program leaders, Senate staffers, policy advocates, and program leaders from other agencies. The Grano Fellowship’s Board of Directors were able to arrange these meetings in my areas of interest because of their long policy experience in Washington DC and resulting extensive contacts both in government and out.
This award provides the only means that I know of, short of already having a career in policy analysis, that a student interested in agricultural policy can see first-hand how it is made, evaluated, implemented, and monitored. Many of these meetings were with people who had a role I did not know existed -- and I do research in these areas. The trip also provided the opportunity to evaluate if you as a new professional fit in a particular role or agency better than another.
I have had a graduate career with some pretty unique experiences, but this experience was incredibly different and helpful. If you have any interest in agricultural policy or government, I encourage you to apply for the AAEA Grano Fellowship when the next submission period opens. You will never have a similar opportunity to meet all the people I met and evaluate all of the roles I was able to witness first hand outside of this award. I have no doubt that the members of the Grano Board of Directors will have the contacts necessary to introduce you to the relevant people in your field of interest. The fact that the Fellowship provides the funds needed to undertake a trip like this is a bonus.